‘Unofficial’ Poses Challenge To Students Battling Addiction

 
Volunteers hand out snacks and information about alternatives to 'Unofficial' outside St. Andrew's Lutheran Campus Center on Wright Street.

Volunteers hand out snacks and information about alternatives to 'Unofficial' outside St. Andrew's Lutheran Campus Center on Wright Street.

Tim Gilmore/Illinois Public Media

Some University of Illinois students will be taking part in the "Unofficial St. Patrick's Day" drinking event Friday, but "Unofficial" can be a difficult time for those suffering from alcohol addiction.

Associate Professor Doug Smith researches substance abuse and addiction among young people. Smith said 18-to-25 year olds are less likely to seek professional help if they have a drinking problem.

Doug Smith is an associate professor in the School of Social Work on the University of Illinois Urbana campus.

Photo Credit: Tim Gilmore/Illinois Public Media

He said a negative experience during "Unofficial," like blacking out and doing something they regret, could be the last push someone needs to change their habits.

"That represents a line that they have maybe set for themselves or they've established for themselves that they never wanted to cross with drinking," Smith said.

Confidential counseling services are available through the university if students think they have a problem. Smith advises anyone to seek help if they think they need it.

Meanwhile, students might be out of luck if they're looking for alternatives to "Unofficial" this year.

The university shows a free movie every Friday and Saturday night at the Illini Union, but otherwise they don't hold any special events during "Unofficial."

Smith said it's hard for the university to hold events that could compete with "Unofficial."

"If being sober, for lack of a better word, or if trying not to drink as much is not going to be fun, then people will choose drinking," Smith said.

St. Andrew's Lutheran Campus Center is hosting a free board game and pizza night as an alternative to drinking.

Otherwise, students are on their own.

Tim Gilmore is the Spring 2018 Donald P. Mullally intern at Illinois Public Media.

Story source: WILL